Pretty Miss Teen South Carolina had some trouble answering a question during a pageant about Americans' ignorance of geography.
Lauren Upton, Miss Teen South Carolina, is the kind of girl who probably makes her schoolmates cry in their pillows at night.
Blond and willowy, she possesses the kind of beauty that could stop a bar fight.
Just so long as she keeps quiet.
Upton’s virtually incoherent answer last week to a simple question about Americans’ ignorance of geography during the Miss Teen USA pageant is cutting a swath through the Internet.
In a panicked response that included Osama, “the Iraq” and South Africa, the 18-year-old sounded just like a deer in headlights would, if it could talk.
One of my friends noted, “I was hoping she would say something really bad, like, ‘The reason so many people in America can’t locate America on the map is because most of the people here are foreigners. We should limit immigration.’ ”
That certainly would have made more sense.
It stands to reason in this kidcentric culture, which insists every child is special, that everyone deserves a trophy for everything they do, even when they don’t do it well, that someone like Upton should be so confident; that is, until she runs into a buzz saw. Such children are swathed and enabled by their boomer parents -- the original self-involved generation -- and are inevitably devastated when the Simon Cowells of the world dare to tell them the truth.
But don’t cry for Upton. Americans love celebrity more than geography. She’s already making the rounds of the network talk shows, explaining that she misunderstood the question and that she was nervous. It can be nerve-wracking and easy to blank out in front of a live audience -- I’ve done it -- but most women and girls who participate in beauty pageants are programmed from pre-school to expect “world peace” questions. It’s doubtful that it was Upton’s first time at the rodeo.
Still, it begs the question: Why can’t one in five Americans identify their own country on a map? How long can we afford to remain willfully ignorant about an increasingly interconnected world?
Bet one in five Chinese can find us.
Actually, Upton’s meltdown is the best thing that could have happened to her “career.” Anyone recall the name of the actual pageant winner?
Only in America can ignorance serve as a springboard to fame and fortune.
Even in an era when women outnumber men on college campuses, more passes still are made at girls who don’t wear glasses.
Jessica Simpson, a hotsy-totsy, minor-league pop singer, became an overnight A-list millionaire, thanks to a vapid remark on a reality-TV show in which she expressed confusion as to whether “Chicken of the Sea” was tuna ... or chicken.
For someone who grew up in Kuala Lumpur, it might be a legitimate question. Don’t believe for a second that Simpson didn’t know what she was doing.
People were talking about it for weeks. So, who’s really dumb?
Reach Canton Repository writer Charita Goshay at (330) 580-8313 or e-mail:
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